Philadelphia Eagles News

Snapshots From This Spring Mini-Camp

Take it to the bank ... until the pads go on and the defense is allowed to hit. I know you want to know all about everything as the Eagles march through the last couple of days of this rookies and selected veterans camp, so here goes. These are some of the notes I've taken after watching this particular camp at the NovaCare Complex ...

  • I've watched Marlin Jackson very intently and I've seen nothing but good things. He was particularly outstanding on Tuesday, breaking up a couple of plays and showing excellent closing skills. Last week I wrote the same thing about Jackson after his first day of full-practice work, and then was contradicted by other reporters watching. Jackson and I spoke about the conflict of what the observers had seen, and he was taken aback by the suggestion that he was "gimpy." It isn't the case, he says. "Not at all," said Jackson. "I think I'm moving around well. I feel great. I'm getting better and better." The whole picture can change when training camp starts, but I think Jackson has a chance to be the starting free safety, at least when the preseason schedule opens and the Eagles can evaluate their team against other offenses. Jackson looks way, way better than I expected.
  • Macho Harris, to me, is more natural at cornerback. He is more fluid, he changes direction well and he has good instincts. We'll learn more about Harris and his ability to run with the top-echelon receivers next week when the full team works out, but through this camp he looks ready to compete for playing time at the left cornerback position.
  • Big difference in Cornelius Ingram in the last two weeks. He is much more explosive, more confident. He made a terrific sliding catch on Tuesday and he has not shown a hesitation at all to go after it.
  • Veteran Darryl Tapp is working on the right side of the defensive line and I can tell that he is concentrating on improving his technique -- perfecting what Rory Segrest wants him to do -- rather than simply bursting off the line and beating rookie Austen Howard. Tapp is using this time the way a veteran should use this time. He is a hard worker, a technician and he is going to have a lot of success helping this defense.
  • Howard, by the way, is a really interesting prospect. Good feet, long arms, huge body. He could be the next one that offensive line coach Juan Castillo develops and molds into a productive NFL player. Keep an eye on Howard.
  • Ernie Sims is as fast as can be. He has been great in coverage. I am sure that offenses want to get a big offensive lineman in Sims' face and bottle him up, so the Eagles have to find ways to use Sims in space. If they can give him some space, he will be very effective.
  • I really like the way that rookie linebacker Keenan Clayton runs. He is pretty darn good in coverage. Hard to tell much else about the linebackers. It just isn't fair. I want to see Jamar Cheney make some plays in the running game. He moves well, isn't really all that big at 6-0, 242 pounds, but he looks like he is picking up the scheme well. But until the pads go on ...
  • If I were to handicap the race for the fourth and fifth receivers, I'd say that Hank Baskett is No. 4 and that Riley Cooper is No. 5. I like that kid a lot. Strong, catches the ball well, big body, runs OK. Jordan Norwood isn't going away, though. Special teams could be the difference here.
  • Before this is all said and done, Dwayne Wright is going to open some eyes at fullback. He isn't going to take Leonard Weaver's job, but Wright knows what he is doing at fullback. He is powerful, moves well and if he can play on special teams, he has a chance.
  • Antonio Dixon looks like he is moving around really well. Looks like he is in great shape. Looks like he has the idea that he has a chance to play a lot of football this year.
  • One thing to note about this rookie class: Very mature, great attitudes, a lot of talent and hungry young men who know they have to bust their butts to earn roster spots here.
  • At the end of the day, I'm not sure what the Eagles are going to do with Ricky Sapp. He could be one of those situational players around whom a package or two is built. He is fast, he is talented, and he is trying to learn the linebacker position. He has taken some reps at right defensive end, too. I just have this sense that he will find the football when the pads go on. But I don't know whether he will be a linebacker, a defensive end, or both.
  • It's going to be an interesting battle for the third RB job. Eldra Buckley is the incumbent, but sixth-round draft pick Charles Scott catches the ball well and ran like a freight train in college, and Martell Mallett is picking things up fast and will get a look. Good battle there.
  • Clay Harbor bounced back from a struggle on Monday to catch the ball well, but he can't have many inconsistent days and expect to make it at this level.
  • Michael Vick said he expects to be "dangerous" this season, and I agree. The coaching staff has to find a way to get him some snaps and use him in some packages. He is blazing fast again, has improved his accuracy and is really coming along as a complete quarterback. I am all in for continuing to run the Wildcat at times. I think it can be extremely effective, and using Vick from time to time won't take away from Kevin Kolb at the quarterback position.
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